Photo credits: Mihaela Draganova
Strategy type (tool, event, training course, etc.)
Creative placemaking project / Socially-engaged art practice
Scope of the practice (local, national, international level)
When did it start/end?
May - October 2020
Name of the organization
City and country
Photo credits: Mihaela Draganova
1. Describe your project briefly
Dreamland (Мечтателница) is a creative placemaking project which aims to establish the city of Sofia as a city of tolerance, empathy and understanding. The final output of the project is a mural which was inspired by the dreams shared by youth of different backgrounds during a series of facilitated, art-fuelled workshops. During the workshops, the participants were able to get acquainted to one another, learn more about the different realities they are living in, their struggles and aspirations thus broadening their views of otherness. The project was executed in partnership with Visionary Foundation and the illustrator TOCHKA SPOT, who designed and painted the mural on a school wall in the city centre.
2. What is the aim of the project?
The overall aim of the project was to create a long-term urban intervention in Sofia, which establishes the capital as a city of tolerance, in which hate speech has no place. The different “harvesting” activities used were designed in a way to allow for the participants to increase their sensitivity to the topics of discrimination, hate speech, xenophobia and racism and their impact on people. By talking not only about our different experiences, but also about our collective values and beliefs, the project aimed to combat inherent prejudices and negative attitudes towards different vulnerable groups represented.
3. Who is involved in designing process?
The process was designed by the team behind Meeting Points with the support of the illustrator TOCHKA SPOT.
4. If you could change something, what would you change?
Securing a school wall and working with a principal who is open to experimentation and the idea of not knowing what the final result would be. This was, in fact, our biggest concern as we weren’t allowed to paint on the wall we had initially selected, despite being given the initial thumbs up. Having the full commitment of the owner/person in charge of the building would allow us to include and work with youth studying in the school right from the very start. This would perhaps steer them to being even bigger ambassadors of change, having been given greater ownership of the process design.
5. How did the project impact on civil society?
As the project concluded only recently, it is challenging to evaluate its overall impact on the wider public. However, our experience with previous projects indicates a positive shift in people’s thinking towards highly marginalised populations such as refugees. On an individual level, participating youth displayed great interest in learning more about the realities of people of different backgrounds to them. The honest surprise when discovering they have deeply-rooted prejudices towards others also suggests that the selected project activities have impacted the thinking processes of many of the participants. Our project evaluations also indicate that participating youth are more likely to be friends with people of different backgrounds following their participation in the workshops.
6. How did you evaluate the project’s impact?
So far, we have quantitatively evaluated the project by using surveys conducted before and after each workshop. Furthermore, at the end of each workshop, we used DIXIT cards to better understand what each participant took out of the planned discussions and activities. As the project concluded on the 30 September, little can be said in terms of reach beyond the number of participating youth. In total, over 90 youngsters took part in the project in one way or another. Our previous experience shows that project participants share their experience and learnings with at least 8 more people. Furthermore, as the final output of the project will remain in the urban environment, we hope that its message will continue to impact many pedestrians who pass by it daily.
7. Is there anything else would you like to share with us?
All activities conducted as part of the workshops were experiential and thus stimulated all participants' active learning and participation. As part of the project we worked with youth seeking asylum, youth of Roma background, deaf and hard of hearing youth, youth deprived of parental care and members of the general population.